Updated Dec, 18th 2012
Living in the Bay Area’s gayest community as a straight man, I blush when men look me up and down.
Shouldn't they know I'm straight or do I just give off that "either way" vibe? Maybe they can tell how insecure I am about picking up women. Maybe they know that I'm a Pisces who isn't always clear about his own boundaries.
My roommate, Olivia, is heading out to a Castro Fair square dance and says, "you wanna come along?" I want to impress her because I always want attractive women to find me attractive. And dancing seems like the most respectful way I can slap her ass without it meaning anything.
We arrive at a makeshift outdoor dance floor in a parking lot behind the Hot Cookie. It’s clear from the number of males on the scene that Olivia won’t have trouble finding a dance partner. But as for me, she’s the most female option in sight.
Just as I’m plotting the precise words to ask Olivia to the dance floor, I get a warm feeling in my face.
I feel the presence of a lumberjack who says to me, “would you like to dance?”
Neurons in my brain fire up everything wrong with this scenario: “I’m not gay. If I dance with a gay man, that means I’m gay. I shouldn’t be dancing with another man, I should be harmlessly slapping Olivia’s ass. I could really go for a slice of pizza. Probably pizza would be a good…”
I look at this man while this crap rings around in my head. I want to be a 'man' about it and confront my fears. I want to impress Olivia. The word, “okay” escapes my throat like a gerbil squeezing through my butthole.
This bear of a man puts his arm around my waist, holds my hand, and makes me feel like I have just boarded a train: his whole body a locomotive and I along for a ride.
I can’t look him in the face. I fear that I’m enjoying this ride a little too much. I hate the fear. I laugh like a little schoolgirl—a nervous laughter that my friends from college would peg me for.
I’m spinning and sliding and swaying and gliding. I catch glimpses of all these male couples surrounding us. The gentle smiles on two bearded faces caught in each other’s gazes. The warm embrace of men straight out of the "YMCA" video who look on with adoration and amusement.
I allow myself an occasional look at my dance partner’s eyes. I appreciate the thrill of the ride, even if I still feel bashful and wrong for enjoying it.
And even with my discomfort, he’s a rock.
The song ends. He doesn’t try to kiss me. He doesn’t ask for my number. He doesn’t try to slap my ass.
He thanks me like the sweetest, most gracious gentleman you can imagine and leaves me to contend with my own confusion.
Olivia has a huge smile on her face. I take one last look at the scene...
Men in courtship. Men in shyness. Men in certainty. Men in love.
As I leave, I keep thinking about pizza. But it’s just a distraction... sort of like Olivia and her sweet ass.